Built on the outskirts of Mombasa City, memories of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the late United Arab Emirates President will remain in the area for generations to come.
The second ruler of Abu Dhabi who died last week was commemorated in the country in a befitting memorial by the school which he established and sponsored since 1985, a learning institution bearing his name.
According to Principal Khamis Mohammed, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Secondary and Technical School’s commemoration of their founder in this special manner was consistent and in line with their school policy to honour him.
“There are special verses incorporated into our school anthem which honour and pray for the Sheikh which are often recited before any important event,” said Principal Khamis.
During the commemoration, members of the Board, former principals and alumni of the school all joined hands with staff in paying tribute to the man who lay the foundation stone of one of the most sought after institutions in the region.
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During the service, former ambassador and Coast politician Said Hemed recounted how - together with the late Shariff Nassir and former Mayor Rajab Sumba - they helped the late Sheikh, who at the time was the crown prince of Dubai, identify a project that is going to have a most profound impact on the youth of the region.
That is how the school came into being.
“Initially it was just an idea and after successful discussions on the kind of school it would be, its facilities including this fine mosque and excellent amenities, we worked tooth and nail together with my brothers to get the government to approve this land upon which the school stands today,” said Hemed.
The school’s longest-serving Principal Professor Khalfan Abdalla Mazrui described the late Sheikh as a patron of the school who even set up a system to ensure the school was well taken care of always.
He attributed the high standards the school maintains to the association it has with the late UAE leader.
Former Chief Kadhi Sheikh Hammad Kassim praised the late Dubai ruler, adding that he will be dearly missed by all who knew him and all those who benefited, directly or indirectly through his benevolence.
Former Mayor Rajab Sumba who sits on the Board of Trustees, hoped that the successor to the late Sheikh Zayed al Nahyan will continue the good work of the late Sheikh as he impacted lives and made life better for so many people around the world.
The United Arab Emirates' federal supreme council elected Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the new president of UAE, a day after the death of his half-brother.
Alumni member Faris Rubeya of the Norwegian International Society said they will forever be grateful to the Sheikh for the opportunity they got in life through his selfless goodwill.
Principal Khamis in his condolence message described the late UAE President as the school’s most benevolent benefactor.
"His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan to whose family the entire Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Secondary School fraternity sends their deepest condolences. May the treasured memories of him provide peace and comfort to his family and the entire nation,” he said.
Khamis said the gift of the school was evidence of the love the late UAE President had for the people of Kenya and Mombasa in particular.
“We shall keep his legacy alive by ensuring that the school continues to be the best institution in Kenya by providing quality education,” said Mr Khamis.
“O Allah, you are the one who sent us a prince from The Emirates. He built for us a school in our country. Grant him all kinds of goodness and guard him against any kind of evil. Surely we are from you Allah and to you, we shall all return,” prayed the principal during the event.
Of the many institutions of learning around the world under the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al Nahyan Foundation, only the school in Mombasa offers a unified instructional program integrating Islamic education, Arabic as a foreign language and the KCSE curriculum.
“All other Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed schools around the world are purely religious institutions,” said Sheikh Rishad Rajab, deputy principal of the school.
Sheikh Rishad said that the school mourned their founder on a Monday as he died on a Friday, and was buried the same day.
“We were all converging on Monday and therefore took the first opportunity to mourn the great man,” said Sheikh Rishad.
Last Saturday, the rulers of all seven of the UAE's constituent emirates gathered at Mushrif Palace in Abu Dhabi and unanimously chose Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the new president.
The UAE is currently observing a 40-day mourning period with flags being flown at half-mast.